North Korea reportedly fired a short-range ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Friday and flew warplanes near the South Korean border.
According to the Associated Press, the missile firing comes amid a series of missile tests conducted by North Korea over the past several weeks in an effort to expand its nuclear capabilities.
On Monday, North Korea explained that the missile tests were meant to simulate nuclear attacks on critical South Korean and U.S. targets.
The tests, supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, included a new intermediate-range missile that flew over Japan. The missile could potentially reach the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. It was also the first time a ballistic missile was fired from an inland reservoir.
North Korea noted that the weapons tests were intended as a warning to Seoul and Washington for carrying out “dangerous” joint naval exercises involving a U.S. aircraft carrier.
Kim praised his nuclear forces for being fully prepared for “actual war to bring enemies under their control at a blow” with a variety of weapons systems that are “mobile, precise and powerful.” As reported by the KCNA, the supreme leader also pledged to extend the operational realm of his nuclear-armed forces.
According to Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, the missile flew on an “irregular” trajectory, indicating that the KN-23 weapon is maneuverable.
“Whatever the intentions are, North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches are absolutely impermissible, and we cannot overlook its substantial advancement of missile technology,” Hamada said. “North Korea’s series of actions pose threats to Japan, as well as the region and the international community, and are absolutely intolerable.”
South Korea scrambled fighter jets in response to the missile firing and warplanes, but there were no clashes. South Korea’s military contended that North Korea had also fired about 170 rounds of artillery from eastern and western coastal areas near the border. The shells fell in maritime buffer zones that both countries established in a 2018 military agreement to reduce tensions.
North Korea’s military, however, blamed South Korea early Friday for conducting artillery fire close to the border for about 10 hours, prompting “strong military countermeasures” in response.
“The [North] Korean People’s Army sends a stern warning to the South Korean military inciting military tension in the front-line area with reckless action,” a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said in a statement, according to KCNA.
South Korea’s military acknowledged the artillery firing but said the training did not violate the 2018 agreement since it took place roughly 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the military demarcation line.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.